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Tories say they will take advice from Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador and industry stakeholders
After two days of laying out its platform of promises on health care, the Progressive Conservative party switched to tourism on Wednesday.
During a visit to the campaign headquarters of Humber-Gros Morne candidate Jim Goudie in Deer Lake, PC Leader Ches Crosbie said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism industry, but it’s not the only factor, as long before the pandemic the province had been losing one air route after another.
Routes have been relocated to places like Nova Scotia, which Crosbie said has worked harder and fought harder for the tourism dollars that are out there.
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The pandemic will eventually end, but that will not automatically mean a rebound for the tourism sector, and Crosbie said the province will lose out on opportunities and the thousands of jobs that go with them unless it is much better prepared than before.
He said Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) has long urged the province to do better.
“A PC government will join forces with them to immediately lay the groundwork for a job-creating rebound,” said Crosbie.
(January 27, 2021) – PC Leader Ches Crosbie says a PC government will develop a new tourism strategy to ensure a...Posted by PC Party of Newfoundland & Labrador on Wednesday, January 27, 2021
That will involve revitalizing the industry and bringing back jobs, and will include developing a new air access strategy to secure routes for airports throughout the province.
Other details of the PC plan include providing better sea and land access with a focus on Marine Atlantic, provincial ferries, road quality, wayfinding signage quality, tourist information availability and quality, and other matters the tourism industry has long talked about.
He said HNL knows what it needs to do, and it knows the opportunities and challenges, and has a vested interest in growth.
“What we need is a new government prepared to take their advice seriously.”
Crosbie said a government he leads will work with HNL and others to ensure a new tourism strategy focused on new tourism products, world-class service quality, workforce professionalism and effective marketing.
"... we’re going to build on the local efforts to create a broader strategic vision and help those local efforts... ” — Ches Crosbie
There will be a focus on authentic attractions and experiences, supporting infrastructure and services, multi-season attractions, balancing people's desire to travel with the need to protect the natural environment, promoting staycations, developing marketing campaigns in Europe and Asia, and a review of tourism regulation, taxes and fees to increase fairness in the business environment.
Sharing the podium with Crosbie, Goudie said a PC government will team with operators on setting world-class standards with consistent quality in accommodations, food service and visitor information.
He said they will reward excellence, support standards-based certification and establish world-class digital supports.
In particular, he said, the plans will help smaller operators in smaller communities.
The PCs will also review regulations on accommodations and fund artists, writers and other cultural producers by developing supportive tax credits.
Some of the things they spoke of have already been started by stakeholders on the west coast through the ongoing development of strategic tourism plans, and Crosbie was asked how the PC plan differs from what’s already happening.
“All those are worthy efforts,” he said. “So, what we’re saying is we’re going to build on the local efforts to create a broader strategic vision and help those local efforts in ways in which only a provincial, co-ordinated reach-out can possibly do.”
Crosbie said people flock to see “Come From Away” in New York and when the world opens for travel again, advertising and marketing of this province should be included in the programs given to people who attend the play.
“There’s a host of ideas in which we can market ourselves to the rest of the world, because a provincial government has a reach in these matters that local efforts don’t have, and we can help there.”
As for providing assistance to businesses that may continue to be affected by the pandemic, Crosbie said the province has limited fiscal capacity, but it can work hand in hand with the federal government.
He suggested the feds could further subsidize Marine Atlantic and perhaps offer a free-fare program for tourists that would be an incentive for people to visit when they can.
[email protected] | @WS_DianeCrocker